Dear friends in Christ,
It has been very cold out this week, with schools closed and Services cancelled on Wednesday. I know that I really missed celebrating the Holy Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion on Wednesday. John Wesley received the Sacrament of Holy Communion twice a week from the year he was ordained until the year he died. He couldn't live without it. The Blessed Sacrament is God's great gift to his children. There is no better way to foster a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Holy Eucharist time and eternity, heaven and earth come together, and past is made present. The Holy Eucharist begins in the Upper Room where Jesus instituted it, but does not end there. It continues on taking us to Mount Calvary and Christ's sacrificial death upon the cross for our redemption where we re-plead the one oblation of himself once offered, and then go on to commemorate Christ's resurrection and his ascension. In the Prayer of Consecration we pray, "we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same."
The Holy Eucharist is the center and summit of our spirituality. Remembering our Lord's teaching recorded in chapter six of St. John's Gospel we pray, "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."
It is always tragic when Christians who know their Faith and have experienced the sacramental life absent themselves from the Eucharist. Yes, we can pray at home and we must pray at home, but at his Last Supper Jesus commanded his apostles to "do this," the Holy Eucharist, in remembrance of him. Jesus said that without the Eucharist we have no life in us (John 6). The Eucharist has always been, from the beginning of Christianity, the center and summit of Christian spirituality: the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's Day to celebrate and partake of the Lord's Supper. When we begin to absent ourselves from the Sunday Eucharist we begin to grow weak spiritually. We either repent and return to the Blessed Sacrament or we eventually fall away from the Faith. Many fall away, but only those who finish the race receive the crown.
While the commandments to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourself are the two greatest commandments, the fourth commandment of the Decalogue is critical to our spiritual lives. No matter what we are doing, no matter what sins may have entangled us, if we continue to attend the Holy Eucharist each and every Sunday we will hear God's Word read and then explained by the priest, will hear an invitation to repent of sin and make a general confession, and if truly repentant will have an opportunity to answer a real altar call and to kneel before the altar and receive Christ back into our lives through the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion "that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us."
We don't go to church on Sunday. The church is not merely a building. The word church means, congregation, assembly, community. We are the church. We are the family of God, and we come together in the Lord's house on the Lord's Day to partake of the Lord's Supper. As members of a local congregation, a local church family, we have responsibilities to one another — to love and serve one another. The local parish is a school of charity, a school of love, where we learn to love, serve and value one another, warts and all. Our attitude toward our local church should be, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.
The Sunday Eucharist is really the minimum to keep us alive spiritually, but if we really want to grow in discipleship and holiness we need to receive the Blessed Sacrament frequently. At Holy Cross parish we celebrate the Holy Eucharist three times every week, and one week of the month we celebrate it four times. It is possible to receive Holy Communion frequently at Holy Cross parish. Jesus says, "Come unto me all ye that travail [labour] and are heavy laden [weary] and I will refresh you" (Matt. xi. 28). We hear those words of Christ every time we gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist every Wednesday at 12:10 PM and every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. The Wednesday Eucharist concludes at 12:50 PM and the Thursday Eucharist at 7:40 AM. The Wednesday Eucharist can be attended over the lunch hour and the Thursday Eucharist will end in time for you to get to work by 8:00 AM. Leave right after receiving Holy Communion if you must, but come. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament in the midst of a busy week will change your life. Come and be blessed!
This Sunday our music director will be back and our choir and Gregorian chant returns to the Eucharistic Liturgy. There is nothing as close to heaven on earth as a sung Eucharist.
A big thank you to Hannah F. for updating our parish website. Do be sure to share our website address with others. We have a great one! It is an easy way to reach out and introduce people to Holy Cross parish. Do the work of an evangelist! Our website address is: www.holycrossomaha.net
This Sunday I will be teaching on the anti-christ in our adult Christian Education class. We will look at every verse of Scripture that mentions the anti-christ. If you have ever wondered what the Bible teaches on this topic you will have an opportunity to learn all about it as we "rightly divide the word of truth." Class begins at 9:00 AM. Invite your friends and plan to be there!
The food bin is filling up fast, let's try to fill it to overflowing this Sunday so this much needed food can be taken to the Open Door Mission. In February we contributed 550 pounds of food to the Open Door Mission. Between our food donations to the Open Door Mission and our bread deliveries to the Francis and Sienna House shelters we are feeding a lot of very needy people. We should be very thankful that God, in His mercy, is allowing us to have a part in feeding so many. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Next Wednesday we will celebrate the Holy Eucharist at 12:10 PM and on Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. I cannot think of a better reason to skip a meal or a better investment of your time. Come and be blessed!
Sunday School is at 9:00 AM, followed by Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM and the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Nursery care for children under the age of four is available during the 10:00 AM Service. Fellowship and refreshments follow Worship in our new parish hall.
We are a faithful, friendly and active congregation, and we have a place for you. I'll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Wishing you every grace and blessing,
V. Rev. Victor E. Novak
HOLY CROSS PARISH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
Rectory: (402) 687-9458
Church: (402) 573-6558